As we read in Acts Chapter 19 this week, the Ephesians Church discovered a very important lesson early on. It really wasn’t much different from the lesson the Israelites learned early on when Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, brought “profane fire” before the Lord (Lev. 10:1-3). Nadab and Abihu, possible drunk from pagan revelries, brought fire from a pagan source to burn before a Holy God. They never made that mistake again!
In Ephesus, all heaven was breaking lose, as God worked “unusual miracles” through Paul and his associates, and as the budding church met daily in a large assembly and in small groups house-to-house (Acts 20:20).
Seven Jewish exorcists came to town, sons of the high priest Sceva. They decided to try a new “formula,” We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches. You know the story. The demon responded, Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you? The demon in the man overpowered the seven and they all ran out naked and bruised and wounded.
Something amazing happened next—not just to the unsaved populace, but especially to those who had already come to Christ. And many who believed came confessing their sins and telling their deeds…(vs.18).
Church folks—those who already believed—realized that they had been in some ways play with the Fire rather than being consumed by the Fire of Holy God. Common to the fallen human condition is this belief that we can have it both ways—belong to Jesus, and still do whatever we want to do “on our own time.” Problem is, or rather, the Blessing is, that we have been bought at highest price and if Jesus is Lord AT all in our lives, He must be Lord OF all!
The Congregation repented! The Church confessed! Some even had to burn magic books they had kept hidden away after accepting Jesus as their Lord. A sober realization came upon these new believers—do not play around with the Fire of God! Do not claim Jesus as Lord and then turn around a live as if He is not.
Though our Holy God could have smoked a large percentage of the Ephesus Congregation as He did Nadab and Abihu, He chose to display his glory in another—almost comical—way, to give them another chance to repent and decide to be all-in.
The picture is clear and the Word clearer—we today have the same choice to make as the Ephesians Church did. Are we willing to burn the garbage, the distractions, the lies, the witchcraft, the voodoo, the compromises, the excuses, the half-heartedness, the gameplaying—and choose this day to serve the Lord and Him alone? If we do, we will be consumed by the Fire of God—a consuming Love!! If we do not, we are playing with Fire—and have no excuse to whine if we get burned!